We’ve reviewed and listened to music from hundreds of submissions in recent months, and narrowed down our favorites into a number of posts recently, such as the 7 Bands You’ve Gotta Hear, DIY Bands to Watch, and the Artist of the Week series, in addition to Best New Releases and a variety of other posts featuring DIY and signed indie artists. It’s still always amazing to us, after all of these years of reviewing under-the-radar bands, just how many excellent bands we profile who are largely unknown. That fact makes them, in our view, even more special (as long as they don’t go the way of a band like fun. where everyone knows that one way overplayed song), which is clearly why people come back to IRC – for great music the rest of the blogsophere is missing out on.
Umbrella Cult – Sarasota, Florida
In December, the Sarasota, Florida DIY band Umbrella Cult released their debut album. However, the fact that it came out only four days before Christmas means that it basically got lost in the crush of the holidays, when people are not really paying attention to new releases. In 2011 and 2012, the band’s gritty production style and high energy concerts quickly garnered them a strong and loyal fan base in their hometown and the surrounding region. The band purposely embraces the “raw and reverb-y production of the 60’s and 70’s,” to create a sound that is balanced by modern and vintages aesthetics.
In 2012, the band began work on an entirely self-produced album in Lee’s foreclosed childhood home (long ago nicknamed the “Umbrella Cult”, which seemed the appropriate name when the band formed). Recording nearly 30 songs during the home sessions, the band members eventually narrowed it down to the 14 tracks on their debut LP, Apocalove.
Umbrella Cult covers all kinds of genres from alt. pop and indie rock to garage rock and psychedelic. Originally formed in 2011, Umbrella Cult counts among their top musical influences excellent bands such as Guided By Voices, The Kinks, The Smiths, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Magnetic Fields, and Neutral Milk Hotel.
In response to a question included on the IRC submission form (“What is indie rock?”), band member Promise Hope (yup, that’s his name), replied: “indie rock is spirited and thoughtful music that has the freedom to operate independently of the well-worn style and genre constrictions. Indefinable perhaps, its sounds are as varied as it’s purveyors.” We like that take on the subject – well put.
Roadkill Ghost Choir – Deland, Florida
From the Florida swamp lands filled with alligators and cypress trees covered with Spanish moss, has emerged the relatively new ambient folk band, Roadkill Ghost Choir. In recent months, the band of brothers – quite literally – have exploded in popularity, selling out gigs up and down the east coast, and landing spots in the lineups for various festivals, including South by Southwest (SXSW) and other musical events. The ball got rolling for RKGC last year when Andy Shepard (vocals, guitar) was invited to perform a gig at a local club. Not wanting to perform solo because he feared it would be boring, Andy recruited his brothers – and brothers Maxx Shepard (drums) and Zach Shepard (bass) to join him on stage. And that was the planting of the seed.
Soon after, the band was completed with the addition of Kiffy Meyers (pedal steel, banjo, guitar), Joey Davoli (keys, trumpet) and Stephen Garza (lead guitar). Indie music lovers have clearly shown over the years that they love indie folk music, as evidenced by the success of bands like Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Avett Brothers, among others. The bands debut EP, Quiet Light, was released in September of last year, produced by David Plakon and mastered by Doug Van Sloun (Bright Eyes, She & Him).
No Shoes – Brooklyn, New York
No Shoes is a Brooklyn prog-punk quartet consisting of Fabian Kaupert and Arcody Ruin, both guitarists and vocalists, plus, bassist Dan Kunkel and drummer Emilio Herce. Since launching the band a year and a half ago, No Shoes has formed a underground following, including plenty of women, which is inspiration to the band members, on more than one level. Herce told IRC: “We are known for our high energy show and eclectic time signatures. A surprising number of faces in the crowd during our sets are young and attractive females.”
The band’s new EP, Mingling, was released last September by Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen. No Shoes have opened for bands like Viva Mayday, Jangula, Osekre and The Lucky Bastards, and named some of their major musical influences as Banzai, Fall of Troy, The Mars Volta, and The Dillinger Escape Plan.
“Honeycomb Mirrors” – No Shoes from Mingling EP
“Raindrops” – No Shoes from Mingling EP
Hints – Brooklyn, New York
Brooklyn unsigned new wave/post punk band Hints sent in a couple of tracks recently from their fresh release, Vol. I. Since forming as a musical project in the summer of 2011, the line-up has solidified with Garrett Morin on vocals and guitar, Matthew Fisher on drums, Collin Lewis on lead guitar and Wyeth Hansen on bass. Honing in on their individual, diverse talents, Hints set out to forge something entirely unique from the get-go. “Our goal has been to make something both fun and earnest that honors influences without becoming derivative,” according to Lewis. Among the band’s top musical influences are bands like Orange Juice, The Church, The Cure, and Echo & The Bunnymen. They’ve recently shared the stage with bands like Menahan Street Band, Owen & The Eyeballs, Rifle Recoil, Relations, Ash Reiter and Jenny Besetzt. On January 29th, the band released a new double single available via the Hints Bandcamp page.
“Ritual” – Hints from Vol. I
“Built A Church” – Hints from Vol. I
The Hoot Hoots – Seattle, Washington
The Hoot Hoots, hailing from the beautiful city of Seattle, have been dishing their brand of fuzzy power pop to local admirers for the last three years. Their latest LP, Appetite for Distraction, gained critical praise that paved the way for the band’s latest release, an EP titled, Feel the Cosmos. The Hoot Hoots fun, whimsical songs have been compared to artists like The Flaming Lips, The Unicorns, and The Shins. Such comparisons to legendary artists for a largely unknown, DIY band is no doubt a risky assertion, but The Hoot Hoots meet the requirements in this case. The band was founded by brothers Adam Prairie (lead vocals/guitar) and Chris Prairie (drums), and was completed when they recruited musicians Geoff Brown to play bass and Christina Ellis as the resident synth master.
“Home” – The Hoot Hoots from Feel The Cosmos
“Empty Hands” – The Hoot Hoots from Feel The Cosmos